liberal ["liberalis" L - suitable for a freeman, generous; "eleutheros" Gk - free] (adj) generous, open-minded, not subjugated to authoritarian domination; (n) one who believes in liberty, universal suffrage and the free exchange of ideas. elite ["eslire" Fr -- to choose fr.L "eligere" -- choose] (n) the choice part; best of a class; the socially superior part of society.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Lying for Freedom

Help Give Bush the Recognition He Deserves

In terms of lies, you could take your pick today. One obvious choice would be the story, White House Defends Editing of Climate Reports. Also today from the AP, we have an article by Nedra Pickler entitled, Bush Says Patriot Act Makes America Safer.

According to Pickler,
The president credited the law with helping to bring federal charges against more than 400 suspects — more than half of whom have been convicted — and to break up terror cells in New York, Oregon, Virginia and Florida.

He spoke at the Ohio Patrol Training Academy to highlight the case of a Columbus man, Iyman Faris, who was accused of plotting attacks on a New York bridge and a Midwest shopping mall but was tracked down with the help of the Patriot Act.

Bush said Faris met Osama bin Laden in 2000 at an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan. Later, he received instructions from top terror leader Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge. Now, because of the Patriot Act, Bush said, Faris has provided information about al-Qaida and is serving a 20-year prison sentence.
In spite of Bush's claims, a DOJ press release dated October 28, 2003, entitled, Iyman Faris Sentenced For Providing Material Support to al Qaeda, contains no mention of the Patriot Act itself.

Also, Faris is said in the press release to have abandoned the idea for the al Qaeda attack because it was impracticable, not because he was interrupted or apprehended due to enhanced law enforcement:
Faris admitted to traveling to New York City in late 2002 to examine the bridge, and said he concluded that the plot to destroy the bridge by severing cables was unlikely to succeed because of the bridge’s security and structure. In early 2003, he sent a message that “the weather is too hot” - a coded message indicating that the bridge plot was unlikely to succeed.
The DOJ is claiming that American law enforcement did not prevent a terrorist attack in the Faris case.

The Federal Complaint against Faris was brought in the Alexandria Division of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The FBI is said to have led the prosecution in the case against Faris.

In another press release, a highly placed DOJ official emphasized the deterrent effect of the Faris conviction.
This case is a significant accomplishment in our mission to prevent another terrorist strike in the United States, said U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty of the Eastern District of Virginia. Severe punishment awaits those who assist terrorists.
When all is said and done, Bush has highlighted one case involving the Patriot Act in order to show the legislation's importance in fighting terrorism. Ironically, in that case, the Act did not prevent an attack. Furthermore, half of the cases filed under the Patriot Act have not led to convictions, accordintg to Pickler, which, as Bush should know, is not a mandate average.

The real problem here, as always with George W. Bush, is leadership. A leader needs to be the person who highlights, in word and deed, the highest values of our people. By emphasizing safety against terrorists Bush has completely failed to emphasize the important value of the US: civil liberties. When he uses the word "freedom," to talk about the US, he's referring to freedom from terrorism. But terrorism really isn't much, if any, of a threat here. It's greatest virtue is that politicians can invoke terror to instill a cooperative, compliant, submissive pattern in the electorate.

Americans are traditionally people who understand the importance of diversity of opinion, debate, listening to varying discourse in order to arrive at objective truth. That is not "freedom from terror." What is required for the open exchange of ideas is "freedom from fear" -- especially the fear of government spying and reprisals. Freedom from government repression means living without a government that monitors our every word and deed. Yes, it opens the risk that someone will take advantage of that and commit sabotage. But our highest value is something we are willing to accept risks in order to protect. We do not compromise our freedom for a false sense of "greater safety."

If Bush thinks safety is more important than civil liberties, he should go to an undisclosed location and stay there.


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